With the release of Windows 10 in 2015, Microsoft started using the term “Windows as a service”. You may not have heard that, but us IT professionals hear it all the time from Microsoft. The term itself is not important, but It’s important for everyone who owns or uses a Windows 10 computer to understand what it means for your computer.
In the past, Microsoft tried to release a new version of Windows every 3 years. They waited 6 years from XP to Vista, but adhered to the 3-year release schedule since then until they released Windows 10. Microsoft says Windows 10 is the last named version of Windows. I believe they will drop the 10 at some point and then it will just be Windows. That won’t happen until after Windows 8.1 is dead which is scheduled for January 10th, 2023. At that point, Windows 10 will be the ONLY version of Windows that is being supported by Microsoft.
In the past, Microsoft has used different ways to update Windows. Windows XP had service packs. Windows 7 even had one service pack. Windows 8 was updated to Windows 8.1. But with Windows 10, we have this idea of Windows as a service. In a nutshell, that means they will just keep updating Windows 10 forever.
You may be wondering how you tell the different versions of Windows 10 apart. Each version has a version number. As of October 1st, 2017, the latest version of Windows 10 was version 1703. There have been quite a few updates to that version. Each update is identified by a build number. As of October 16th, the latest build of version 1703 was 15063.674. You can find out what version and build you have by clicking on the start button, type winver and hit enter.
Here’s how Windows as a service works. Microsoft will release bug fixes (Quality updates as they call them) monthly on what is called Patch Tuesday. They’ve been doing this since 2003. It’s the second Tuesday of the month. In addition to the monthly “quality” updates, Microsoft will release “Feature Updates” twice a year. These are the more major updates that change how Windows works. Not as major as going from Windows 7 to Windows 8, but bigger than the monthly updates.
That’s pretty much it. They will continue to fix bugs and patch security holes on a monthly basis like they have been doing and instead of doing major release every 3 years, they will do smaller upgrades twice a year. By the way, one of those semi-annual feature updates was just released on October 17th, 2017.
This aggressive mode of constantly updating Windows is good for security but it’s bad in many other ways. Every time Windows is updated, it seems to break some software or some device driver or something causing headaches for users and IT departments all over the world.
Those of you who subscribe to our Security And Maintenance (SAM) plan are lucky that you don’t have to worry about updates. We take care of it. And we don’t let an update install on your computer until it has been tested and found not to cause any major problems.